By Khris Berry
There are a few subjects that can divide a room of groomers very quickly: pay types, doodles, shear choices or favorite breed of dog are a few examples. But while groomers are finding common ground on many subjects, they continue to be vastly separated on the subject of cat grooming.
For the sake of this article, let’s assume that there are only two classes of pet groomers in the marketplace—those who DO groom cats and those who DO NOT groom cats. It is difficult to find any groomers who do not fit into one of those categories.
Cat Groomers can recite the many benefits of adding feline grooming to their suites of services, including increased revenue, increased customer base and filling a much needed area of the pet grooming market. And pet groomers who do not services cats can recite many logical reasons to avoid the service, including danger, risk to groomer and pet, lack of education and lack of proper facilities.
To bridge the divide between these two camps of groomers, this article will include considerations for groomers who are curious about what’s going on with the “other side” of this discussion. Hopefully, you will find new insight, respect or perspective for groomers who choose to offer or not offer feline services.
Just because a pet groomer knows how to use their tools—from bathtub to dryer to clippers, few can successfully manage a career grooming cats without proper education. Thankfully, driven in large part by market demand and opportunity, education for cat groomers is becoming easier to acquire.
Avenues such as the National Cat Groomers Institute are offering complete certification courses and support for both experienced and new cat groomers. Finding an education offering which aligns with your philosophy and provides sound, hands–on training in technique is a great way to launch or revive a career grooming cats. Books, DVD’s, online courses and seminars can be great tools for learning breeds, health issues, temperaments and for building general knowledge.
If you are considering offering cat grooming, or perhaps already do offer the service, utilizing proper equipment is an important aspect to achieving success and safety. In reviewing your ability to offer cat services, a groomer should look at cages/containment, dryers, proper clipper types, safe cat blades, and appropriate products for managing feline coat and skin needs.
Cat and dog grooming are fundamentally the same processes—clean the pet, manage variable coat types, provide styling to the owner’s taste and budget, and provide the owner with regular detailed reports on the skin and coat health of their pet. The tools to accomplish these tasks; however, can vary based upon the species.
For example, cages which may provide comfort and ease for dog grooming and drying may be too open and vented for cat comfort. Cage floors as well as the spacing and material of the enclosure for cats can often be different from dog needs—easy sanitation with all pets is a must. Choose a clipper that offers a quiet clipper experience with the ever safe 10 blade option. Dryers with variable speeds allow adjustment to gauge a cat’s individual tolerance level. Many cat groomers prefer to groom cats on their laps; the use of a stool or chair will allow that flexibility. While assessing your environment, placing your table in a corner to eliminate escape routes as well as offer environmental confinement can often serve to allow a cat to settle into their grooming process more easily as well.
If you are currently grooming cats or considering adding these services, attention to the equipment above will enable you to accommodate your feline clients more easily. Opinions range widely on offering cats a private litter box during their visit or simply limiting their service time to ensure that they are not required to “hold” their bladder or bowels for excessive amounts of time.
On the pro side of the argument, cats will be more relaxed and less likely to eliminate during their grooming service. On the con side, many cats will not readily utilize a foreign litter box/litter and there is always the increased effort and cost associated to set up, clean, dispose of and sanitize.
Have you considered offering cats as a specialty? In my salons, we designate one day per month for “Caturdays” and offer cat only grooming. This eliminates stimulation and reactivity between cat/dog species. Whether the cats are reactive and defensive or the dogs are overly stimulated by sharing their grooming space with a cat, everyone rests easier knowing that cats have their own space and groomers can shift their skill sets toward cat–centered thinking.
One of the biggest factors which deters pet groomers from offering feline services is the risk and danger to the groomer’s personal health. All bites are serious, but cat bites bring a new level of medical attention and concern due to increased risk of blood infections. Cat scratches offer a lesser but still concerning hazard. Learning to minimize the risk by addressing cat grooming with proper equipment and better education on cat behavior is not only recommended but basically necessary before you consider grooming another cat.
There is no shame in limiting your cat grooming services to cats who are social and learn to tolerate the process; learn your own limitations and stick to them for the safety of all concerned. Many pet professionals can readily recite vaccine recommendations for dogs, as well as the sanitation and prevention protocol for those. Those same professionals may not be as versed on communicable and infectious feline health issues—again, education is key to providing a complete service.
Every pet professional must make their own choices when selecting the services they offer. The reasons they choose to offer or not offer cat grooming are as unique as the groomer themselves. Opportunity for cat grooming is at an all–time high—and demand for groomers is ever increasing. Using the information above, you may reconsider adding cat grooming to your existing business or review how your cat services are serving your business currently. The time for cat grooming to enter the spotlight and stand as its own service is Meow!